Should Liberals Be Skeptical?

of Occupy Wall Street?

…it is just not the protesters’ apparent allergy to capitalism and suspicion of normal democratic politics that should raise concerns. It is also their temperament. The protests have made a big deal of the fact that they arrive at their decisions through a deliberative process. But all their talk of “general assemblies” and “communiqués” and “consensus” has an air of group-think about it that is, or should be, troubling to liberals. “We speak as one,” Occupy Wall Street stated in its first communiqué, from September 19. “All of our decisions, from our choices to march on Wall Street to our decision to camp at One Liberty Plaza were decided through a consensus process by the group, for the group.” The air of group-think is only heightened by a technique called the “human microphone” that has become something of a signature for the protesters. When someone speaks, he or she pauses every few words and the crowd repeats what the person has just said in unison. The idea was apparently logistical—to project speeches across a wide area—but the effect when captured on video is genuinely creepy.

True liberals certainly should be. But most people who call themselves that these days aren’t. And of course, it’s hard to take very seriously anyone who thinks that Dodd-Frank is “the best liberal hope for improving democratically regulated capitalism.”

[Update a while later]

The Wall Street protesters have been sold a bill of goods:

The narrative that came out of these events—largely propagated by government officials and accepted by a credulous media—was that the private sector’s greed and risk-taking caused the financial crisis and the government’s policies were not responsible. This narrative stimulated the punitive Dodd-Frank Act—fittingly named after Congress’s two key supporters of the government’s destructive housing policies. It also gave us the occupiers of Wall Street.

We have to take back the narrative.

8 thoughts on “Should Liberals Be Skeptical?”

  1. The conspiracy theorist side of me says the Administration told the unions to support the OWS effort in order to sustain the effort long enough to offer a distraction to Fast and Furious and Solyndra. Not sure that will work for the long term but it appears to be working for now.

  2. OWS appears to be the liberals what the Tea Party is to the Conservatives, the extreme radical fringe.

    But its to be expected. The Great Depression was also a period when extreme fringe groups appeared to make noise and demonstrate, something not well covered in modern histories of the era.

  3. I’m reading that new Ethan Allen book, which for its first seventy or so pages is about anything and anyone other than Allen, and it has a diversion wherein Ben Franklin calculated that the great evangelist George Whitefield was capable of preaching to an open-air crowd of 25,000, having invented a method of crowd size estimation on the fly while Whitefield was speaking in Philadelphia. This was, obviously, long before the invention of any speech-amplification device other than maybe a speaking trumpet, which Whitefield didn’t use.

    If the speaker can’t be bothered to project, who cares what they have to say? These aren’t exactly crowds of Whitefieldian size we’re talking about here.

  4. Still trying to figure out why business is to blame for individuals with tens of thousands in student loan debts. The schools charged them the fees to teach them useless skills. It could be the protestors are unteachably stupid, because if they had any intelligence they’d occupy the Ivory Towers, particularly the administrative offices of such institutions. They’d also ask for Congress to quit artificially raising the cost of education by increasing demand on a finite resource.

  5. Thomas Matula:

    You keep saying that the TP is the extreme radical fringe, but only ever point to the fringe of the TP itself (who are shouted down), or to other fringe groups who may happen to share some if the TP’s goals.

    1. Hal,
      Some data for you. I think you will agree that the Republican Party, about 40% of the electorate, is to the right. And as this poll shows only about half of Republicans support the Tea Party.

      And as it shows, only about half of those Republicans that support the Tea Party describe themselves as “very angry” about the current state of affairs. So it would appear that the core of the Tea Party furthest 25 % of the Republican Party or about furthest right 10% percent of the public. As for what defines a fringe, I guess it matters where your own views fall, since most use the term to describe those that are more extreme then themselves.

      As for the Tea Party’s goal. As others pointed out its not a organized party, so there is no definite list of Tea Party goals to point to, just the opinions of various Tea Party members. About the only common goal they have is being angry with the government but anger is found at both ends of the political spectrum.

  6. I suppose another possibility is that anyone to the right of Huntman is on the extreme radical fringe.

    Let’s just say that view is not universally shared.

  7. “Just because liberals are frustrated with Wall Street does not mean that we should automatically find common cause with a group of people who are protesting Wall Street.”

    Except that the protesters are the base of the Democrat party and the protests were organized, in part, by established liberal groups with ties to the top of the Democrat party.

    “This task is made especially difficult by the fact that there is no single leader who is speaking for the crowds, no book of demands that has been put forward by the movement.”

    Except that there is a published list of demands and it had a lot of wacky things on it during the early days of the protests.You could have read really crazy comments at their web site before they started scrubbing posts.

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